Nutrition 101: What To Eat (And Not) In Order To Play Better Golf

Healthy eating before and during a round of golf may be just the boost you need to take your game to a new level. Just look at the increasing number of golfers on the tour slimming down, eating healthier, and playing better golf. Everyone realizes that it’s good to eat healthy

But nutrition is not a common topic in golf instruction sessions or golf tips. Most golf lessons and golf tips focus on how to swing a club or how to play a certain shot, not on what to eat while playing 18 holes. If you’re not learning how to putt better, you?re correcting a swing fault. Nevertheless, the fact remains: All golfers can benefit from better nutrition and proper hydration.

Avoiding a Quick High
Many golfers get a little hungry during a round. To satisfy this hunger, they often eat foods that give a quick energy boost. A candy bar, bagel, cookie, hot dog, soda, or a beer are probably the most popular foods consumed during a round of golf, at least judging by students who take my golf lessons. While these foods are among our favorites on or off the course, they don’t help you play your best.

These foods give you a quick high. But the high is inevitably followed by an energy crash, as the body releases insulin to combat the sudden elevation of blood sugar. The insulin release makes you feel tired and sluggish. No one I know plays his or her best golf when feeling tired and lethargic. Just swinging a club seems like a real chore. You also tend to lose confidence in yourself when you feel tired. But eating the right foods helps maintain your energy level.

Eating Before A Round
The key to eating before (or after) a round is consuming healthy foods, foods that don’t add extra fats or empty calories. You should be thinking whole foods and nutritional balance instead. Don’t have a huge bowl of pasta with a slice of white bread before a match. That just adds a lot of empty carbohydrates and not much else. Instead, eat a side dish of pasta (whole grain, if possible) or whole grain bread with a small piece of meat, fish, or chicken (no skin).

Fruits and vegetables also are good to have before (or during) a round. In fact, they?re good to have anytime. They act like nutritional bodyguards. They contain antioxidants, which protect the body’s cells from potentially harmful chemical reactions. Fruits and vegetables should be a part of your diet whether you’re playing a round or not.

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind when it comes to eating before (or after) a round is to go for a variety of color. If your plate is made up of foods having the same hue, your nutritional balance is probably off. So you’ll want to make some changes. And, of course, you should drink 64 ounces of water a day. Drinking water before or after a round keeps you hydrated and healthy.

During A Round
For snacks during a round, forget the traditional convenience foods. Leave things like energy bars, sports drinks full of sugars, salty chips made with unhealthy trans fats are best alone. Also, beware of foods that seem healthy but really aren’t. Many yogurts, for example, contain high doses of sugar. Some ‘multi-grain’ snacks are no better for you than their process grained counterparts.

When you have snacks during a round, choose natural sources of protein and fat, such as nuts and jerky. You can also have carbohydrates in the form of fruits and whole grains. Instead of a beer or a soda, have water. These are better for you both during and after a round.

Older Golfers
Older golfers especially they have to watch what they eat before, during, and after a match. As a golfer gets older, you need to consume enough protein to maintain muscle mass. The body functions best when it has a constant supply of protein, from which to draw. Small amounts of meat, poultry (no skin), fish, nuts, and cheese, distributed among your meals and snacks, are excellent choices.

Eating healthy won’t help you cut your golf handicap overnight. You’ll still have to take golf lessons, read golf tips, and practice as often as you can. But one thing is certain. All golfers can benefit from better nutrition and hydration, two factors that play a key role in energy availability and utilization.

Jack Moorehouse is the author of the best-selling book “How To Break 80 And Shoot Like The Pros.” He is NOT a golf pro, rather a working man that has helped thousands of golfers from all seven continents lower their handicap immediately. He has a free weekly newsletter with the latest golf tips, golf lessons and golf instruction.